Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device.
In the future, text-to-911 will be widely available in the United States. However, text-to-911 is currently only available in certain markets where 911 call centers, also known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), have elected to accept emergency text messages from the public. For this reason, unless you have confirmed that the PSAP in your area supports text-to-911, you should not rely on text to reach 911. A list of areas supporting the service is available here.
The Commission has taken steps to spur the widespread availability of text-to-911. On August 8, 2014, the Commission adopted an order that requires all wireless carriers and other providers of interconnected text messaging applications (i.e., those text messaging providers that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers) to deliver emergency texts to PSAPs that request them. If a PSAP requests text-to-911 service, these text messaging providers must deploy the service in that area within six months. To be listed on the FCC’s centralized database, 911 authorities or PSAPs must submit the PSAP Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Form (download form) to provide information on each PSAP that is ready to accept texts. PSAPs may also notify covered text providers directly, but those PSAPs will not appear on the FCC Text to 911 Registry unless they submit the Readiness and Certification Form.
Additional information regarding the availability of text-to-911 is provided below, and will be updated periodically.
We advise consumers that even in areas where PSAPs accept text-to-911, it is a complement to, not a substitute for, existing voice-based 911 service. Consumers should make a voice call to contact 911 during an emergency when possible.
How to contact 911
If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:
- Always contact 911 by making a voice call, if you can.
- If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled, and text-to-911 is not available, use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.
- Remember - in most cases now, you cannot reach 911 by sending a text message.
If you attempt to send a text to 911 where the service is not yet available, FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to send an automatic "bounce-back" message.
- Consumers who receive this "bounce-back" message will be advised to contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using a telecommunications relay service (the latter for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability).
- The bounce-back requirement is intended to inform consumers and minimize the risk of a consumer mistakenly believing that a text to 911 has been transmitted to the PSAP where the service is not available.
When will text-to-911 become widely available?
- All U.S. wireless carriers and other text messaging providers must deliver emergency texts to PSAPs upon request. If a PSAP requests text-to-911 service, text messaging providers must deploy the service in that area within six months.
- The Commission has encouraged PSAPs to begin accepting texts as text providers develop text-to-911 capability. It is up to each PSAP to decide whether and when to begin accepting texts. PSAPs currently accepting text messages are listed here.
- We expect that others will do so and that text-to-911 will become available in more areas over time. Information on best practices from public safety organizations and from PSAPs that have implemented text-to-911 is available here.
Which service providers must support text-to-911?
- The Commission’s text-to-911 rules apply to all wireless carriers and other text messaging providers that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers. Therefore, all such providers are required to deliver emergency texts to requesting PSAPs.
- The Commission’s text-to-911 rules do not apply to text messaging applications that do not support texting to and from U.S. phone numbers. Text messaging apps that only support texting with other app users or texting via social media are not required to support text-to-911.
- The FCC adopted a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that explores additional issues about text-to-911, including the delivery of location information, support for text-to-911 when roaming and future texting services, such as real-time text communications.
Status of text-to-911 deployments
For more information
To learn more about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC’s Disability Rights Office website. You have multiple options for contacting the FCC.
- Via the Consumer Help Center;
- By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); Videophone for ASL: 1-844-432-2275
- By mail:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
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Text-to-911 Guide (pdf)